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What Is the Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage in Alabama?

We’ve all heard the term, but you may not know exactly what it means. So what is the irretrievable breakdown of marriage? To the untrained ear, it may sound abstract and complex. However, it’s an important concept to grasp, especially if you’re considering divorce proceedings in Alabama. In today’s article, we’ll shed light on the concept of an irretrievably broken marriage so that you can determine how it fits into your situation.

That said, if you have more specific questions or need immediate assistance, please call (256) 859-7277 or contact us through our website for a free consultation.

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What Does the Phrase “Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage” Mean in Alabama?

In Alabama—as in most other states—an irretrievably broken marriage is one of the most common grounds people use for seeking a divorce. Simply put, it denotes a situation where the marital relationship has become so dysfunctional that there is no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation. It’s the point of no return, where the threads that bind a marriage have frayed so badly that mending them is all but impossible.

Legal Requirements for Divorce 

Claiming an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is a relatively simple path toward a no-fault divorce. Nonetheless, Alabama law demands that parties meet certain conditions to get a divorce.

First, at least one party needs to live in Alabama for at least six months before filing for divorce. Second, you must file divorce papers in the county where your spouse lives. Third, you have to wait at least 30 days to divorce your spouse after filing your divorce papers. Finally, the court must determine that the marital relationship no longer functions and that further attempts at reconciliation are impractical or futile and not in the best interests of the parties or their family.

Examples of Irretrievably Broken Marriages

While it’s certainly helpful to understand the legal aspects of this issue, it is critical to understand when a marriage is irretrievably broken. To get a clearer understanding, let’s consider the two following examples.

Situation #1

Imagine a young couple named Paula and Mark. They married 12 years ago and have three children. However, their constant bickering about parenting methods, religious upbringing, and educational decisions for their children has escalated.

Over time, these arguments have evolved into chronic and inescapable conflicts, and the couple’s deep-seated disagreements have created a tense and volatile home environment. Despite seeking family therapy and mediation, they find themselves repeatedly returning to the same unresolved conflicts. At this point, their marriage is quite possibly broken beyond repair. 

Example #2

Let’s consider another couple, Emma and James. They’ve been married for eight years. Emma is an ambitious career woman who believes in equal gender roles and is passionate about rising to a leadership position in her field. On the other hand, James holds more traditional views and believes a woman’s place should be primarily in the home.

This difference in outlook has led to incessant arguments where James undermines Emma’s professional achievements and constantly discourages her career progression. Emma feels emotionally and professionally stifled. Despite significant counseling, they have been unable to reconcile their drastically different viewpoints. Thus, the fundamental disparity in their beliefs has led to an irretrievable breakdown in their marriage.

How Does the Ground of Irretrievable Breakdown Affect Divorce Proceedings?

Alabama views the irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a no-fault ground for divorce. That means it is somewhat easier to prove than fault-based grounds for divorce, like adultery. However, it also has an impact on the division of marital assets, child custody, and alimony.

Division of Marital Assets

In Alabama, the courts typically divide marital assets fairly but not necessarily equally. The judge considers various factors, including the grounds for divorce.

Because a claim of irretrievable breakdown is a no-fault ground, it typically doesn’t factor into the division of assets. However, it may be possible to overcome this general rule if one party can demonstrate that the other spouse committed financial misconduct that was related to the marriage breakdown.

Child Custody Determinations

When it comes to child custody, the child’s best interests always take precedence. So if your grounds for divorce is an irretrievable breakdown, this is not likely to impact the custody order. The only exception is if the circumstances leading to the breakdown somehow have an adverse impact on the child’s welfare.


Courts determine an award of alimony or spousal support based on various factors. These factors include the following:

  • The financial resources of each spouse,
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the spouses during the marriage, and
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage.

However, just like the division of assets, the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage is generally not a determining factor for awarding alimony in Alabama.

We Can Help Get You Through Your Divorce

Understanding the intricacies of Alabama’s divorce laws can be challenging. Fortunately, our seasoned team at Charlotte Christian Law is well-equipped with experience and dedication to justice to guide you through this journey.

We empathize with the emotional turmoil that accompanies a marital breakdown, and we’re committed to supporting you while you put your life back on track. To begin this process, contact us at (256) 859-7277 or reach out to us online

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